Economy drives every part of our country, government

Published 9:29 am Monday, April 6, 2020

Dr. John Merryman wrote a letter expressing his concern about his perception that I was encouraging the relaxing of our protocols for the Coronavirus. Not so. Everyone should be following the president’s guidelines. This is obviously a dangerous virus for many, and it is the doctor’s job to err on the side of caution. 

It may be just the opposite of what the doctor said, however. It is dangerous and irresponsible to ignore the very real possibility of an impending depression. What he and others fail to comprehend is that this IS a crisis, but not the kind his experience will cure. Will we look back years from now and say this is what triggered the Great Depression of 2020? 

The job loss numbers are already unprecedented. 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. That is five times the previous record of 680,000. Kentucky jobless claims are 30 times higher. Unemployment could reach Great Depression levels. 

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You can’t just look at the pandemic in a vacuum. For each percentage point rise in unemployment we see a rise in suicides. The unemployment rate could go to 30 percent. Imagine what that would do to the suicide rate. When people are depressed, they turn to drugs. Overdose deaths will rise. Poverty reduces life expectancy by years. A long depression could cause more deaths than the virus. 

America has endured pandemics before, but we have never had a deliberate intentional contraction. Government can only help for so long. If the shutdown is lengthy, where will the crazy high levels of government aid come from? School funding, Medicare, Social Security – EVERYTHING is in jeopardy. If the American economy, which powers the economy and provides stability for the individual AND funds government, is gone – all government options are dire. 

Many assume this is merely an inconvenience. Don’t assume that. This could be a catastrophic change in America. It would be extremely unwise to go past the point of no easy return. 

There is hope. President Trump has quickly and skillfully fast tracked a public/private partnership where dozens of lifesaving therapeutics are in the works. Plasma antibody transfusion could potentially immunize doctors and nurses. Hydroxychloroquine is showing excellent results. 

This virus will not take the country down. But if we lose the economy – THAT WILL. 

Eben Henson